If you’d like to read “The Quiet Ones, Part 4” click on the title.
Bob sat on the couch and watched Mabeline sleep in her reclining geriatric chair. Her mouth lolled open lazily, a sign that her autonomic nervous system was eroding as surely as her conscious mind. They had to be careful not to allow her mucous membranes to dry out. Bob was supposed to put chap stick on her lips several times a day, but he always forgot to do it.
The “geri” chair allowed Mabeline to hang out in the family room, instead of being in bed all day. Bob wanted her life to be as normal as he could make it, and the living room afforded her a change of scenery. He also wanted her to participate in whatever social activities were going on in the house – and there were plenty of them. The living room seemed like a more “normal” place to receive the guests who came by frequently to check on her and show their support for the family.
For a long retired couple Bob and Mabeline had an awful lot of friends. They called and came by at all hours of the day. They brought pies and casseroles..and memories. Some wanted to drag Bob out of the house for a “break.” Others wanted to stay behind, so he could go.
Some wanted to come, but they couldn’t – either because their lives were too busy, or because they couldn’t bear to witness Mabeline’s deterioration – so they just prayed instead. Bob knew – he could feel the love they were trying to send him in the only way they could manage.
A couple came, and stood at the end of the bed and cried. Others peeked around the door to her room, but wouldn’t go in.
Bob was pleasantly surprised by the support of his friends, but he was completely blown away by the people he hardly knew at all. Some of the ladies from the church took turns coming by to sit with Mabeline. He and Mabeline had no more than a nodding acquaintance with these women, but they put their own needs aside and came to read to her, hold her hand, assist with even the most unpleasant tasks and occasionally bring meals.
When people asked Bob how he was doing, he always replied, “Better than I deserve,” and he meant it.
A team of hospice workers had been assigned to Mabeline’s case. A nurse came by weekly to check Mabeline’s vitals, address any issues or concerns that may have cropped up since her last visit, and order refills of her medicines. Monday, Wednesday and Friday staff members came to give Mabeline a sponge bath in her bed.
They had a social worker who visited every two to three weeks. She helped him with the paper work he needed to request disability benefits from the Veteran’s Administration for his wife, which eventually allowed him to hire Kari.
And then there was his favorite hospice employee, the Chaplain. Ester was a sweet, tiny southern bell with a thick North Carolina accent, who looked so much like Mabeline when she was a girl, it made his heart ache. Of course, that’s where the comparison ended. The Chaplain had such a mild, gentle nature, you couldn’t imagine her ever losing her temper or raising her voice, no matter how justified she might be.
Mabeline on the other hand was a force of nature. She was smart, witty and fun. She was also tough, and if you were smart, you wouldn’t cross her. Bob admired Ester, but such a mild mannered lady would never have captured his attention when he was a young man. He was a wild one – a notorious ladies’ man, restless and hard to nail down.
He wasn’t impressed with the high maintenance, perfectly coiffed and styled sorority girls he’d been dating before he met Mabeline. It would take a down to earth, woman of substance ground him.
If you’d like to ready, “The Quiet Ones, Part 6,” click the title.
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